Archives for June 2019 | News from Roman |

Updates and news

Transferring photos to 'Google Pictures' platform is now complete

I have now managed to transfer all of my photo galleries from Facebook (FB) to Google Pictures (GP) platform. The new Facebook policy is to prevent sharing the images with those, who are not users of FB. As I wanted to ensure that my galleries are open to anyone who wishes to explore them, regardless of what social media platform they are on, I decided to look for alternatives and decided for the GP, which is open to everyone.

You can now enjoy watching the photos you like by clicking on the links to specific galleries provided at the
'Photo' link of this website. I hope that you will enjoy the experience!

Planning my last two weeks

A view from ECHO's office on Metro Manila

After doing all the administrative work that I came here for, I have got a few hours in our office of Manila (with this beautiful view) to go through my emails and think of remaining two weeks in Asia.

Time flies, and whether I like it or not, my time in Asia is coming to its end. On 14th July, I will be flying out of Bangkok and starting my two weeks of holidays with family in Europe. Before that happens, still some work to be done. Tonight, I will be in the plane between Manila and Bangkok. Tomorrow, I will have to start packing my flat. Yes, I will need to start putting things to boxes, so that all the stuff that I want to transport to Panama City is taken to the shipment company to allow them for arranging all the formalities for my items to be taken to America. It will be busy to arrange all of it, but then the weekend will come, and I will wake up in a nearly empty flat… It is such a strange feeling. It actually gives me a bit of stress and butterflies in my stomach. The next chapter of my life is coming to its end, and the new one is set to begin.

As I am trying to prepare for departure, I am also in the middle of the administrative procedure of helping Tahir get his Schengen visa. Now, we have got all his papers collected, and he has an appointment to visit the Consulate of Poland in Toronto this Friday, so that he can submit his application. If all goes according to plans, he should get his visa within next 2 weeks, so that he can catch his plane to Warsaw on 14th July. The plan is that we both arrive to Warsaw the same day, and then travel down to Krakow and then Nowy Sacz together.

When Tahir is with us, the idea is that we all (meaning, Mum, Tahir and I) travel around Europe a bit. At this stage, we are considering two options. One is go north to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland; or if not, then going to Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Liechtenstein and then back to Poland via Germany and Czech Republic. We may well end up doing something completely different, but at the end of the day, whatever we decide, it should be lots of fun! I am very, very much looking forward to the break.

Then, there is a trip to Panama City, and starting my new responsibilities. I will be travelling to my new work destination at the beginning of August (on the way, I will spend a day in Los Angeles), and get into my new job as soon as I can. Getting adjusted to my new work life also signifies that I will need to get settled in my job. Getting a new flat, considering buying a car… All these things will need to get sorted.

Change is overwhelming sometimes, but it is also very, very exciting. Really looking forward to next few weeks.

A day in Manila

Intramuros, the old part of Manila, the capital of the Philippines

Tomorrow, I am travelling to Manila for the last time, while doing my job in ECHO Bangkok office. It will be a very short trip. I will spend in the Philippines just two days. Enough time to do my handover to my Filipino colleagues, and perhaps meet some of my friends in the city.

I really enjoy Manila,
especially the old part of the city, called Intramuros. I may not be able to visit it this time, as the time is short, but I certainly would recommend it to anyone who has a chance to be in the city. I will miss Manila, and the Philippines and its people very much. I have a soft spot for the country, this is for sure!

Visiting survivors of the tsunami in Sunda Strait in western Java of Indonesia

In Pandeglang, western Java: The team of Indonesia Red Cross, responsible supporting the survivors of the tsunami of the Sunda Strait

Together with my new ECHO colleague, Neung, we managed to make it to western part of Java (Indonesia) to visit the survivors of the tsunami,
which took place in Sunda Strait in December last year. We came to see how some of those who lost their homes cope in their temporary camp in Pandeglang.

We had some very mixed feelings. On one side, the emergency teams (including the Red Cross) clearly are doing a great job in providing the daily necessities for the people so that they can carry on their living as comfortable as only possible given their situation and very little financial resources available to the humanitarian actors. The shelters were crowded, but offered privacy, and solid protection from bad weather. The latrines and shower rooms were clean, and people had access to basic medical care and adequate quantities of clean and safe water, as well as food. Well done!

Then, we were disappointed to learn that the authorities fail to provide any tangible plan for the families to get back to normalcy: to rebuild their houses, or to help people return to their jobs and businesses (most live from catching fish). Also, there is a serious gap in providing education services for the children, even if it is already 6 months after the disaster. When we talked to the people, no one was very optimistic, nor would anyone display much trust in promises that they would be helped soon. Sadly, the people will not be able to get on with their lives without support. They are all extremely poor to start with, and the tsunami exhausted their capacities to cope on their own. They really need help and cry out for more assistance, so that they can become independent again. After I had chatted with those responsible for the recovery plan, I lost my hopes too. No one seems to be able to give you any detailed answers on what actions are taken and when things will progress. I just got some very generic statements, which really looked like 'wishful thinking', rather than a recovery plan. Honestly, it does not look good and I worry that the 'temporary' shelters will become a very, very long term accommodation, even if they are not suitable to host people for the long time. I do hope that I am overly pessimistic, but I have little reasons to think otherwise. Of course, we will try applying pressure to whoever we can, but certain things depend on willingness of the authorities, rather than organisations like mine. Let's hope for the best though…

Temporary shelters for the tsunami displaced

The orange tent is a place, where the residents of the camp meet to socialise and to receive their handouts of aid, when it arrives

A small shop in the camp

Checking on the latrines in the camp

On a more positive note, my Mum has just told me that Tahir's official invitation for his Schengen visa is now approved. This is a very important step towards receiving it. Hopefully, he will be in the Consulate of Poland in Toronto next week, and soon after, he will get the document that he needs to travel! Fingers crossed!

Los Angeles advice needed!

So, it seems like I will be in Los Angeles for 8 hours while transferring flights between Warsaw and Panama City on 1st August 2019. Is there anyone I know there to meet for a coffee/late lunch? Alternatively, any suggestions on what I could do in the city during some free hours, between planes? Is it feasible to go out from the airport and do some sightseeing? Any advice on companies/people who could arrange/suggest something for me?

All suggestions welcome! Please write to Friends reading it, you know how to contact me!

Leaving Thailand in a month!

It is only one month left, before I leave Thailand! Yes, difficult to believe, but only 30 days doing my current job. The preparations for my departure are ongoing. I am about to finish my 'end of deployment' report at work, and have already arranged quite a lot of practical things, so that the people who will take over from me will have (hopefully) a smooth transition to their own responsibilities. Then, I am also in the middle of doing all the other practical stuff too. Boxes and cartoons are all ready for packing, items for packing are identified, and so are those ones, which will be donated to people in Bangkok (things that I will not take with me, but are still perfectly okay to be used).

Then, I have also done some work on starting my new life in Panama City too. I have already managed to do a research on apartments, some research on practicalities of live in the new country. Still, final decisions will only be able to be taken when I am there. I am still hesitating, for example, whether I should be buying a small car (I would prefer not to), or not. This particular choice is dependent on my assessment of the public transportation options. Somehow, all these small things that I think of excite me and make me happy!

Before leaving, as you may remember, I will still be travelling. On Monday, I am going to Indonesia for a week, and then, I will be in the Philippines too. I am looking forward to these trips, as they give me an opportunity to say goodbye to some of my friends and places that I like. Then, in between these trips, I will have a small party in my place in Bangkok, so that I have a chance to say goodbye to my favourite people in town. Already lots of my friends confirmed their attendance, which is wonderful, as hopefully, we will have a great time together.

I am still in the woods when it comes to plans for 2 weeks in Europe. We are still waiting for Tahir's Schengen visa, and until this one is not approved, I do not want to commit to anything… I do hope that he will be able to come over and spend time with the rest of the family! Keep your fingers crossed, so that he gets the visa! Happy

First phase of picture transfer is now completed!

An image from one of the Seoul's temples

I have now finished working on transferring all of the pictures to Google Pictures platform from the 'Archives Gallery'. In the process, I tidied up some of the pictures, reorganised them a bit, captioned all of them.

You can see the list of 'new old galleries' in this link.

There is still around 50% of pictures to sort out, therefore it will take me some additional weeks to get all the work done.

Once I finish working on the electronic images that I have, I will start treating my really old paper pictures. I will choose some of the more interesting ones, digitalise them and create a gallery for them too!

I hope that you enjoy what I have done so far. Winking

Ciudad del Saber

Ciudad del Saber, Panama City, my future office (temporary building). Photo credit goes to my EU/ECHO colleagues in Panama City)

Today, my colleagues from Panama City sent to me some picture to show me how our new office looks like. Out offices are located in an experimental social research part of Panama City known as 'Ciudad del Saber', or City of Knowledge (in English). Initially, we are going to co-host our office with colleagues from the Spanish Cooperation (Development Agency of Spain), but a few months later, we will have our own 'stand alone' building. It just needs to be rehabilitated, before we move in.

A view from our new temporary office. Photo credit goes to my EU/ECHO colleagues in Panama City.

Our future permanent office, which is now under rehabilitation (we should be able to move there in early 2020). Photo credit goes to my EU/ECHO colleagues in Panama City.

The pictures made me very excited and now, I am really looking forward to be moving to the new place in August!

In the meanwhile, I am in the middle of writing my handover reports, packing and arranging my last work missions to Indonesia and the Philippines. It is busy, but it also makes you feel that time flies Winking

We are still waiting for the outcome of Tahir's application for his Schengen visa. It will take some more weeks. I am very hopeful that he will be able to visit Poland, while I am there in July.

The progress on transferring my pictures from Facebook to Google Pictures is going on well. I am more or less half way through. Still lots of work to do, but I am very happy with the outcomes so far (
you can check for the progress yourself at this link. Galleries with little flags are already transferred to Google Pictures), and with the process, which is very sentimental Happy

Farewells and goodbyes

The team I work with in Bangkok. Some of the nicest people I have ever has as colleagues

June is here. The last full calendar month for me while doing this deployment. The time of goodbyes, and saying farewells to people and places that are important to me has started for good. I am now discussing with my colleagues, when we will be gathering for our 'good-bye' encounters - together as a team, and also in various smaller combinations. I am very excited to be moving to Panama City, but I am also sad to be leaving these people behind.

Today I went to the city to do some shopping for boxes and packing materials that I will need to wrap my stuff to keep it safe, when it travels from here to Panama over the sea. There is still time to pack, I am not quite doing my suitcases yet, but I am definitely thinking about it. I will need to have my shipment boxes ready to be picked up on 28th June. It is just a little over 3 week away from today. Not a lot of time left, considering that I am travelling to Indonesia and the Philippines before that.

And exciting news is that I am going to have some visitors coming to see me here in Bangkok, just before I leave. My wonderful friend from my college time, Irene is coming to Thailand for meetings, and of course, we will be trying to spend sometime together!

Another piece of good news is that Tahir's refugee travel document is ready, and we have started the process of his Schengen visa application. It will take time, before he gets it, but we hope there will be no surprises and he will be able to visit Europe in July, so that we can spend time together before I get to go to Panama.


Finally, I am also in a full swing of arranging my trip to Panama City, and also looking at options, where I will live in the city. The first excitement is that I am travelling through Los Angeles, where I will have 9 hours free, in between the planes. Just wondering whether any of you had some ideas what to do in the city during this time. Ideas welcome!